Senate panel blocks beauty parlour at Parliament Lodges

Ties provision of maintenance funds to CDA to completing tasks

Our Correspondent March 22, 2019
Ties provision of maintenance funds to CDA to completing tasks. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday stopped the civic authority of the federal capital from building a beauty parlour at the Parliament Lodges without first advertising it's tender transparently.

Moreover, the panel ruled to route maintenance funds for the lodges through the Parliament Secretariat instead of the civic body.

This was directed during a meeting of the Senate House Committee at the Parliament Lodges on Thursday. The committee’s meeting was chaired by Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala.

During the meeting, the issue of leasing out stores within the Parliament Lodges and other issues at the facility were raised.

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The committee halted the Capital Development Authority (CDA) from opening a beauty parlour for women inside the Lodges without first publicly issuing tenders for such an establishment.

The committee further decided to make no comprise on the quality of products which will be used in the parlour and lawmakers decided to check the licences of the parlour’s operators themselves.

Further, the committee concluded that security fees for the salon should be reduced from Rs150,000 proposed currently to just Rs50,000. Moreover, rent for the establishment should be raised by 10 per cent every third year.

The committee then ordered the CDA to issue an open tender for the parlour.

Store tenders

The committee inquired about the status of tendering stores at the lodges after the CDA had evicted the previous occupants and discussed the terms of reference for awarding the tenders.

Directing the CDA to award tenders for setting up a coffee shop and tuck shops at the Lodges in a transparent manner, the committee set up a sub-committee which would oversee the facilities being provided to legislators.

Poor maintenance

The committee also raised the issue of poor cleanliness at the facility.

Mandviwala noted that a number of lawmakers residing at the Lodges were complaining at the lack of cleanliness at the facility.

He added that he had personally visited the washrooms at the Lodges and had taken pictures of the missing taps, broken sinks and leaking pipes.

Lawmakers suggested that CDA Chairman Amir Ali Ahmed conduct a surprise visit of the Lodges and see for himself the poor condition of the washrooms.

It was disclosed during Thursday’s meeting that the cafeteria at the Lodges was also in poor shape with committee members complaining that the food prepared there is not fit to be presented before anyone.

The meeting was told that the cafeteria was allegedly operating without a formal no-objection certificate (NOC) or a proper contract. Moreover, whenever CDA officials were asked about to the actual contractor for the cafeteria, officials avoided giving a straight answer.

At this, Mandviwala asked CDA officials present in the meeting to disclose the name of the cafeteria contractor.

The committee’s chairman further decided to write a letter to the Punjab Food Authority, inviting its officials to inspect the quality of food being served in the cafeteria and the state of hygiene in its kitchen.

Furthermore, the Senate deputy chairman expressed dismay with the state of maintenance and cleanliness at the lodges, noting that the Rs21 million being provided for janitorial services to the CDA to keep the Lodges clean was being “wasted”.

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On the recommendations of lawmakers, Mandviwala directed that from now on, the Parliament Secretariat would directly take money for cleanliness from the Ministry of Finance, instead of directly providing it to the civic authority.

The money will only be released to the CDA after lawmakers at the Lodges sign off to verify that the work being paid for was completed.

The committee chairman further instructed CDA officials to refuse to fulfil any illicit demands received from any parliamentarians, including himself.

Gas bills

Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) managing director briefed members of the committee about the new slabs imposed which led to inflated bills of parliamentarians living at the Lodges.

The committee agreed that the company should recover pending bills worth Rs3.4 million for the gas consumed by the cafeteria at the Lodges.

During the meeting, CDA officials said that walk-through gates at the Lodges will be repaired, and security cameras will be installed.

Further, they said that sanitary workers will now be subjected to security clearance as part of measures to protect the Lodges.

Mandviwala directed CDA to install firefighting equipment in the building. He further called for holding announced and unannounced fire drills in the Parliament House to raise awareness. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2019.